There is nothing more interesting than wandering through the traditional bazaars in Iran when we travel. Traditional bazaars are excellent opportunities for getting closer to the culture and customs of different people. Many cities in Iran have well-known traditional bazaars that are always centers of gathering and income generation. But which cities have the best traditional bazaars in Iran? In this article from Eligasht Tourism magazine, we intend to introduce the best traditional bazaars in Iran to you.
Tabriz Grand Bazaar
Tabriz Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest traditional bazaars in Iran and the world, located in the center of Tabriz city. This bazaar, which was registered as part of the Silk Road on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1389, has unique and beautiful architecture representing the rich culture and history of Iran. This bazaar includes various sections, each with its own characteristics and special products. Some of the most famous sections of Tabriz Bazaar are:
Sadeqieh Charsuq: Charsuq refers to the intersection of several alleys in the market where open spaces and domes are usually seen. Sadeqieh Charsuq is one of the oldest and most beautiful Charsuqs in Tabriz Bazaar, built in the 7th century AH (Islamic calendar). In this Charsuq, there are chambers for selling carpets, fabrics, clothes, handicrafts, and more.
Mozaffari Timcheh: Timcheh is the smallest unit of the market, with fewer chambers and more enclosed spaces compared to the main halls. Mozaffari Timcheh is one of the sub-sections of Qasaran (sellers of fabrics) and was built in the 8th century AH. It is known for its decorated arches and patterns under its dome.
Haj Mirza Alinaqi Caravanserai: Caravanserai refers to the large section of the market with numerous chambers and open spaces in its center. Haj Mirza Alinaqi Caravanserai is an ancient caravanserai located in the southeast part of Tabriz Bazaar.
Tehran Grand Bazaar – Traditional bazaars in Iran
Tehran Grand Bazaar is one of the most important economic, historical, and tourist centers in the capital city and among the traditional bazaars in Iran. It is located in District 12 of Tehran. This bazaar, registered as a national heritage site of Iran in 1977, covers an area of over 105 hectares and includes various sections, each with its unique goods and crafts. Known as the “Grand Bazaar,” it represents the rich culture and history of Iran, housing important historical structures such as mosques, shrines, bathhouses, schools, and more.
Tehran Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest markets in Iran, dating back to the Qajar era. It took shape during the reign of Fath-Ali Shah Qajar (1804-1834) and flourished under Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (1848-1896). Throughout history, Tehran Bazaar has played a significant role in the country’s events due to its location on major trade routes and the presence of political and social factors.
Isfahan Grand Bazaar
Isfahan Grand Bazaar is one of the historical and tourist attractions of the city and one of the oldest and largest bazaars in the Middle East. It was built during the Safavid era and is located in the heart of Isfahan, between Naqsh-e Jahan Square and Atiq Square. It consists of various sections, each offering its goods and crafts. This bazaar symbolizes Iranian culture and art and encompasses numerous historical structures.
Yazd Traditional Bazaar – Traditional bazaars in Iran
Yazd Traditional Bazaar is one of the historical and cultural attractions of Yazd City, representing the trade and handicrafts of the city. It features beautiful and unique Iranian-Islamic architecture and includes various sections such as alleys, Timchehs, caravanserais, mosques, schools, bathhouses, and water reservoirs. In this bazaar, you can find various goods and souvenirs of Yazd, including gold and jewelry, Yazdi sweets, Termeh (a traditional Yazdi fabric), carpets and rugs, textiles, copper and metalware, and more. The most famous traditional market in Yazd is known as Khan Yazd Bazaar.
Khan Yazd Bazaar is considered the longest and most authentic bazaar in Yazd, built during the Qajar era and the reign of Naser al-Din Shah. It is located next to Khan Square, Khan Bathhouse, and Khan Theological School. The architecture of this bazaar follows the Safavid style and is adorned with tilework, inlaid work, muqarnas, and paintings by Reza Abbasi. The bazaar consists of several alleys with unique crafts, each featuring old chambers and shops.
Vakil Bazaar, Shiraz
Vakil Bazaar is one of the oldest and most famous traditional bazaars in Iran, built during the Zand dynasty by the order of Karim Khan Zand in Shiraz. This bazaar is listed as a national heritage of Iran and has served as a model for other historical markets in the country. The architecture of this bazaar is in the style of the Safavid era and features exquisite tilework, woodwork, stucco, and paintings by Reza Abbasi. Within this bazaar, there are several alleys with specific trades, each having its ancient chambers. Some of the famous alleys in this bazaar include:
- Khansar Alley: This alley is home to plaque sellers and gold and jewelry vendors. It is named Khansar or Khansari because most plaque sellers in this alley are from the city of Khansar. Here, you can buy various gold and silver jewelry at reasonable prices.
- Terme Alley: In this alley, there are sellers of Terme, which is a famous local delicacy in Shiraz. Terme is a type of legume that is boiled with salt and vinegar and has various health benefits. In this alley, you can buy fresh and dried Terme of high quality at reasonable prices.
- Alaqqe Bandan Alley: In this alley, some locksmiths specialize in making Alaqqe, a traditional type of lock that is opened and closed using a key and handle. In the past, Alaqqe was used to lock the doors of houses, caravanserais, wooden chests, and many others. This trade has become less common due to the emergence of modern locks, but it still retains its popularity.
Kermanshah Traditional Bazaar
The history of the old bazaar of Kermanshah, one of the traditional markets in Iran, dates back to the construction of the Western customs house in this city during the Qajar era, about 150 years ago. The Kermanshah bazaar was one of the largest and most vibrant markets in the Middle East at that time and remained unrivaled. Now, the old bazaar of Kermanshah is referred to as “Tarikeh Bazaar” and is located in the historical neighborhood of the city. The most eye-catching thing that catches your attention at first glance in Tarikeh Bazaar is the colorful and beautiful fabrics seen throughout the market. These beautiful fabrics are the same ones used to make Kurdish clothing.
Kermanshah Traditional Bazaar is located next to the historical Emad ol-Dowleh Mosque and Shahbaz Khan Bath. In fact, by visiting the bazaar, you can both explore the handicrafts and traditional industries of Kermanshah and admire the historical monuments of the old part of the city. Don’t forget to taste the traditional and delicious sweets of this city, such as Kak and Date Palm cookies, while wandering around Tarikeh Bazaar in Kermanshah and savoring their wonderful flavors.
Kashan Traditional Bazaar – Traditional Bazaars in Iran
Kashan Traditional Bazaar is one of the traditional bazaars in Iran, built during the Safavid era and registered as a national heritage of Iran in 1976. It has beautiful and unique Iranian-Islamic architecture and includes various sections such as alleys, Timchehs, caravanserais, mosques, schools, public baths, and water reservoirs. In this bazaar, you can find various goods and souvenirs of Kashan, including gold and jewelry, textiles and carpets, Kashan sweets, herbal distillates, and many others.
The New Bazaar is one of the sections of the Kashan Traditional Bazaar, built during the Fath Ali Shah Qajar era. This bazaar consists of 120 small and large shops with front verandas and upper rooms, located between the Dolat Gate and Feiz Square. Several spacious caravanserais with high four-sided structures and roofs have also been built in the space between the shops. This bazaar is considered one of the most unique bazaars in Iran due to its creative design and beautiful decorations.
Traditional Bazaar of Arak
The Traditional Bazaar of Arak is one of the oldest and most beautiful traditional bazaars in Iran, dating back to the Qajar era. It is one of the earliest structures built in the city of Arak, where various trades are practiced. This market has unique architecture and geometric symmetry that adds beauty to the complex.
The Arak Bazaar was built in the early 13th century AH by Yusuf Khan Gorji, the ruler of Arak, under the orders of Fath-Ali Shah Qajar. The initial construction of this market was attributed to Sepahdar A’zam, whose name is also given to a mosque and a school in the market. One of the reasons for building the market was the strong economy in the Arak region. The high quality of agricultural products and the global fame of Sarouq carpets necessitated the establishment of a central place for selling these products. The construction of the market took about twenty years and underwent significant development and changes over time.
Traditional Bazaar of Qazvin
The Traditional Bazaar of Qazvin is one of the traditional bazaars in Iran, dating back to the Safavid and Qajar eras. This market is a masterpiece of Iranian architecture, showcasing geometric symmetry and brick and tile decorations. In the past, this market was the center of international trade and the economic heart of the region.
The Qazvin Bazaar was built in the early 11th century AH (Shamsi calendar) by Shah Tahmasb Safavi, who made Qazvin his capital. The initial structure of this market was the Shah Abbasi Caravanserai, which later transformed into the Mosque of the Prophet. During the Qajar period, this market also experienced development and underwent significant changes, with new sections added to it. At that time, the Qazvin Bazaar became the center of international trade between Europe and Russia due to its geographical location.
Chabahar Traditional Bazaars – Iranian Traditional Bazaars
The bazaars of Chabahar have many differences compared to other traditional bazaars in Iran. Most of these bazaars are open-air and offer various goods. In these markets, you can enjoy the aromatic spices and local cuisine of Sistan and Baluchestan. Moreover, you can find delicious coffee and chocolates in these bazaars. The Baluch Bazaar is one of the most famous bazaars in Chabahar, full of colors and scents. So if you travel to Chabahar, be sure to visit its traditional bazaars to be amazed.
Bandar Abbas and Bushehr Traditional Bazaars
If you are interested in buying diverse and affordable goods, do not miss the Tah-Lengis Bazaars. These bazaars, which are mostly located in the southern ports of Iran, are places where sailors and crew members of cargo ships bring goods to Iran. These goods are imported without paying customs duties, which is why they have lower prices. The Tah-Lengis Bazaars of Bandar Abbas and Bushehr are among the most famous bazaars of this kind in southern Iran. In these bazaars, you can find anything you can think of. So if you visit the Tah-Lengis Bazaars, keep your eyes open and enjoy the shopping experience. These bazaars are considered some of the most attractive traditional bazaars in Iran.
Traditional Bazaars of Northern Iran
The traditional bazaars of Iran in the north of the country are in the form of daily markets and are one of the attractions of northern Iran. These markets, which are only held on specific days of the week, are the places to buy and sell fresh and local agricultural and livestock products. In every northern city, you can find a daily market. You just need to know where and on which day it takes place. In these markets, the friendly and hospitable people, fragrant and colorful fruits and vegetables, and the open and intimate atmosphere give you a good feeling. Most vendors display their goods on hand carts or the ground.
Some of the traditional bazaars in Iran may have significant differences compared to other traditional markets in the country. However, each of them represents the culture and traditions of the region they are located in. The human relationships and handicrafts of each region are evident in the bazaar of that region. Therefore, each traditional bazaar has its own beauty and value. So if you are interested in traveling to different cities, make sure to visit the bazaar of each city to discover the unique and interesting products you can find there.